Headless, Yet Not Structureless

by Scott McLemee on September 14, 2006

Pace Belle, I’ve failed to hype The Weblog not through shyness — or even laziness — but from the assumption everybody already knows about it. Even if it isn’t listed in the CT Lumber Room (hint hint), a situation that has long been a puzzle to me.

Likewise, I’ve assumed that everyone has seen the well-produced greatest hits album by Scott Eric “Acephalous” Kaufman (from Ronco!) including such chestnuts as “My Chiasmus of Hatred and My Hatred of Chiasmus.” But no more, with the assumptions. Check it out. The collection seems like the prototype of some new blogal genre, for which no name has yet been coined.

Finally, just to tie things together: Adam Kotsko of The Weblog certainly ought to put together such a compilation. So say we all?

You Should Read The Weblog

by Belle Waring on September 14, 2006

C’mon it’s The Weblog. You’re missing out on insightful posts like this one from Dominic, on how Fay Weldon is the antichrist:

The model of libidinal economy endorsed by Weldon is essentially that of middle-class parenting: let your children have the smallest possible amount of what they clamour for – sweets, television, computer games – and make their access even to that conditional on an unremitting parade of good manners and the assiduous consumption of vegetables. In such a manner is exorbitant desire acknowledged through gritted teeth – when it is not being exploited to secure obedience. All of this is fair enough in extremis, which is where most parenting of small children is done, but it is nauseating to encounter an adult person still willingly enthralled by such a ruthlessly petty system of restraint and reward. If adolescence has any purpose at all, it is to shatter those bonds.

Read the whole thing, because it really is an excellent little essay. On a lighter note, you can be astounded by the unparallelled quote-mining skills of Adam Kotsko:

In Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), Reinhold Niebuhr quotes a Southern politician protesting against suffrage tests for black voters “on the ground that they would discriminate in favor of the educated Negro against the servile, old-time Negro”:

Now, sir, the old-time Negro is assassinated by this suffrage plan. This new issue, your reader, your writer, your loafer, your voter, your ginger-cake school graduate, with a diploma of side-whiskers and beaver-hat, pocket pistols, brass knucks [sic] and bicycle, he, sir, is the distinguished citizen whom our statesmen would crown at once with the highest dignities of an ancient and respectable commonwealth.

I think I speak for all of us when I say, humina whatsa ginger-whisker beaver-hat whaaaaa? The Weblog has many other fine posters, too; I’m sure your life needs more Ben Wolfson. McLemee may be shy to hype The Weblog, but I’m not. Go ye, and read of it. Also, ginger-cake.


by Chris Bertram on September 14, 2006

Regular readers will know of the Euston Manifesto, a British-based initiative by various self-described leftists some of whom were big supporters of the Iraq war and all of whom share an obsession with the idea that “Enlightenment values” are under threat from a nefarious coalition of Islamists, postmodernists and Chomskyites. Now they have “a US chapter”:http://www.telospress.com/main/index.php?main_page=page&id=44&chapter=0 , launched by people around the journal Telos. The list of initial signatories and supporters is interesting, but contains figures not usually thought of as having much to do with the left as traditionally construed. They include Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Walter Laqueur, Martin Peretz and Ronald Radosh. Laqueur has become the victim of a Mark Steyn-like obsession with demography and recently gave a positive review of Michael Gove’s execrable Celsius 7/7 in the the TLS, Peretz – a member of the pro-war “Democratic Leadership Council” – has just joined the advisory board of Lewis Libby’s defense fund, and Radosh is a regular writer for David Horowitz’s FrontPageMag.

update: a link to Tony Judt’s essay “The Strange Death of Liberal America”:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n18/judt01_.html from the latest LRB seems right (via “Marc Mulholland”:http://moiders.blogspot.com/ ).

The Fox News Effect

by Henry Farrell on September 14, 2006

Michael Bérubé tosses out an aside in a “post”:http://www.michaelberube.com/index.php/weblog/theory_tuesday_act_v_scene_iii/ on Raymond Williams and culture.

bq. Left media critics make much of the fact (to take a random example) that millions of Americans believe that Iraq was involved in 9/11, and I have heard any number of my colleagues adduce this as evidence of the Foxification of national discourse. But the curious thing is that on September 12, 2001, millions of Americans believed that Iraq was involved in 9/11, and Iraq’s refusal to denounce the attacks didn’t exactly reassure those people. The question remains, then, of whether Fox News actively recruits people to the “Iraq was involved” agenda, or whether it simply confirms the Cheney-Rice conspiracy theorists in what they already believe.

As it happens there _is_ evidence that Fox News has a real and quite substantial effect on people’s politics (albeit on voting behavior rather than the propensity to believe in conspiracy theories). Stefano Della Vigna and Ethan Kaplan have a paper (“pdf”:http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~sdellavi/wp/foxvote06-03-30.pdf#search=%22fox%20news%20effect%22 ) which compares voting in the 1996 and 2000 presidential and senate elections in towns where Fox News was introduced on cable and in towns where it wasn’t. They argue that there isn’t any substantial difference between the two different groups of towns besides the introduction or lack of same of Fox News, providing a sort of natural experiment. However, there are significant _ex post_ differences in the degree to which people in these towns then vote for Republicans. Between 1996 and 2000, Republicans gain between 0.4 and 0.7 percentage points more of the vote in towns with Fox News than in towns without it. DellaVigna and Kaplan reckon that Fox News persuaded between 3% and 8% of its audience to vote Republican.